Plant-Based Diet and Chronic Diseases

Much research points to the fact that a plant-based diet can prevent and even reverse coronary heart disease and other chronic diseases. Healthful plant-based diets, diets higher in nutrient-dense plant foods and lower in refined carbohydrates and animal foods, are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality and all-cause mortality.[1] So, why isn’t everyone eating this way? Maybe because people are not aware of the benefits it possesses. Here are some benefits that will help you consider making the switch.

Eating a variety of these foods helps in providing the necessary protein, calcium, and many other nutrients that the body requires. Those who consume a plant-based diet lower their risk for heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and many other health conditions.

Heart Disease

People who eat a plant-based diet have a lower risk of dying from heart disease than non-vegetarians. Plant-based diets are beneficial to prevent as well as reverse heart disease, improve the levels of cholesterol, decrease inflammation in the blood vessels, and lower blood pressure. Our bodies require cholesterol and the cholesterol our bodies need is made in the liver.  Cholesterol that is not made in your body only comes from animal sources. Plants do not contain cholesterol.  When someone stops eating animal sources of food, it allows the body to resume normal and healthy levels of cholesterol in the body.

Diabetes

Plant-based diets prevent, manage, and can even reverse type 2 diabetes. Plant-based diets lower body weight, improve insulin function, and increase the beta cells’ ability to regulate blood sugar. All this helps in reversing the symptoms and damage associated with type 2 diabetes.[2]

Weight Loss

Plant-based diets lead to weight loss, even without having to exercise or count your calories. Replacing high-fat foods with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes will automatically reduce your calorie intake.

Cancer

Avoiding any sort of animal products and high-fat foods and replacing them with plant-based foods can ultimately lower the risk of developing any type of cancer in the body.[3]

  • Brain Health

Saturated fat and trans-fat found in dairy products, meat, and fried foods can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and any other cognitive conditions. A plant-based diet avoids these foods and has many antioxidants, folate, and vitamin E, which will protect the brain.[4]

Experts say that the idea of preventing chronic diseases with a switch to a vegan or plant-based diet has been around for over 20 years. However, the phenomenon of a plant-based diet has become extremely popular in the last few years, giving rise to more questions about how these foods can improve your health and prevent or even reverse diseases.

We all know that changing your lifestyle and dietary habits and following an exercise routine will slow the progression of coronary heart disease. According to a 2014 study conducted on 198 patients, 177 patients noticed a difference in symptoms as they consumed a strictly plant-based diet. 22 percent of patients confirmed disease reversal with test results. [5]

An important thing to observe here is that these patients were willing to follow a plant-based diet to reduce the chances of heart disease. They had the desire and motivation to stick to the new diet. Many people struggle to accept the diet due to the level of restriction they believe it comes with. They need extensive guidance on preparing suitable recipes, reading food labels, and understanding what they can and cannot eat.  However, once the transition is made, many people acknowledge that the plant-based diet not only helps them feel and be healthier, it also is better in taste and satisfaction to their previous diet.

[1] JAHA (2020). Plant-Based Diets are Associated with Lower Risk of Incident Cardiovascular Disease, Cardiovascular Disease Mortality and All-Cause Mortality in a General Population of Middle-Aged Adults. Retrieved from https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/JAHA.119.012865

[2] “Diabetes.” Retrieved from(https://www.pcrm.org/health-topics/diabetes).

[3] “Vegan Diet: Health Benefits, Foods, and Tips.” Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/149636

[4] Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (2020). Plant-Based Diets. Retrieved from https://www.pcrm.org/good-nutrition/plant-based-diets#

[5] Esselstyn, Caldwell B. 2017. “A Plant-Based Diet and Coronary Artery Disease: A Mandate for Effective Therapy.” Journal of Geriatric Cardiology  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5466936/

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